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Classically Speaking
Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond
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Not only is the Metropolitan Opera expanding their reach, there’s also a new game in town. A new series of operas will be showing in movie theaters in Huntington, Charleston, Beckley, and Triadelphia (near Wheeling) starting this weekend.

I’m adding these Opera in Cinema broadcasts to our classical calendar for West Virginia, and I’m looking into getting more info and maybe some tickets to give away here. I’ll keep you posted – here’s the schedule for the Opera in Cinema series, which starts this weekend with a movie version of  La Boheme

This first one is not really an opera broadcast – it’s a movie with the actors lip-syncing to their earlier recording of La Boheme. But it still looks like it will be beautiful and striking. 

For the experience of the broadcast live from the opera stage, you’ll just have to wait until the Met’s Tosca hits the theaters in October. Stay tuned!

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Mona Seghatoleslami 2009-09-25 false Center

Have you been to any of the opera movie broadcasts? Curious what it's like to go the opera at the movies? Well, now there are even more chances to experience them in West Virginia.

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Elizabeth Pitcairn’s site and her recordings
* The Ohio Valley Symphony
* The Red Violin (the instrument and the movie)

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Mona Seghatoleslami 2009-09-25 false Violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn Left

Elizabeth Pitcairn's violin has a great story behind it, which was depicted in the film The Red Violin , but it’s more than just a story. The famed Red Violin, the 1720 “Red Mendelssohn” Stradivarius, is a beautiful-sounding instrument, which comes to life in the hands of violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn.

This Saturday evening, Pitcairn will perform music by Camille Saint-Saëns and Pablo de Sarasate with the Ohio Valley Symphony in Point Pleasant.  She took some time from getting ready for the concert to chat with me about her musical projects and experiences:

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I love movies. I get so lost in them. Music is such a big part of the film experience -- it is "the wings of a film."

When I had a chance to speak with Hans Zimmer, one of my favorite film composers, I was elated. His music is very distinctive and so deftly blended with the images that they become as one. That’s the mark of a great film composer.

Zimmer’s career is one the world’s most stellar. From The Lion King to Gladiator to his latest film with Ron Howard, Angels and Demons, Zimmer must be the busiest composer in Hollywood. I was a little intimidated talking with such a renowned composer, but Zimmer’s down-to-earth warmth and honest sense of humor made it fun for both of us.

Here’s part one of my interview, where Zimmer explains how he got his start and his unique process of working with a director.

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Where does a composer get his texts if the score calls for it? For Angels and Demons, Zimmer takes an idea he used in Gladiator: make up your own, even if it’s not an actual language. Also, we learn what he meant by “men in skirts and sandals” and hilarious reason why the fanfare scenes in Gladiator were cut. 
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I could not resist asking Zimmer about his work for Hannibal, the follow-up to Silence of the Lambs. The music is full of delightful textures and becomes a separate character at times. Zimmer shares his insights about director Ridley Scott and some behind-the-scenes stories that give us a rare glimpse into the filmmaking world.
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http://www.wvpbmedia.com/radio/cs/2009/zimmer_hannibal.mp3 false Zimmer talks about the music for Hannibal Center
The live album, The Wings of a Film, is a great overview of his work. The cut “Journey to the Line” is particularly powerful, showing some minimalism influence. His somewhat experimental approach to this piece raised the ire of a few musicians. Hear his funny and honest anecdote about the performance of the piece. 
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Jim Lange 2009-09-23 false Center

“The music does need to stand on its own two feet.”
Hans Zimmer

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Dear Friends,

The String Programs in Kanawha County Schools, a joint effort of the West Virginia Symphony and the School Board, are bringing tremendous opportunities to young people in our area. Lessons on instruments are offered for free during school hours. There are now 17 elementary schools participating. 

One of the newest participants, Piedmont Elementary, has had an incredibly enthusiastic response: 20 violinists, 8 violists, 6 cellists, and 3 basses signed up, but only 3 of these indicated they have the means to supply their own instruments. It would be such a shame to see any of them turned away because instruments could not be found.
 
Please help us if you can, or pass on our “WANTED” poster to anyone you think may be able to help. 

Contact Andrea Di Gregorio at 304-346-1908 or abdigregorio@gmail.com if you have an instrument or want more information.

Sincerely Yours,
Sandra Groce, president Piedmont PTO and Principal Viola, WVSO


Related:

The Case for Classical Music 

Passions of the Young and Old 

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Got a spare fiddle?

I’m always excited to hear about people enthusiastic about learning and experiencing music, especially classical music. As we’ve written about before, classical music is not just for the richthe old, or any other narrowly defined group. It’s best when music can be shared by everyone. 

But not everyone who wants to learn to play music has the resources to afford an instrument. In Kanawha County, music teachers are looking for instruments, or money to purchase instruments for students in a new string program.

There are kids who want to learn music; I hope we can come together to help them do so. Here's their flyer and the letter they sent with more information.

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I recently spoke with Donald George over the phone, so now you can find the answers to some important questions including: what’s up with the long concert name, who was Margaret Ruthven Lang, and why isn’t her music better known these days?

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We also spoke more about George’s opera and recital career, musical background, his musical collaboration with Lucy Mauro, and his work teaching singing in New York, West Virginia, and China.
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Details for Tuesday’s concert
* More about Donald GeorgeLucy Mauro, and Duodrama
Margaret Ruthven Lang biography from the Library of Congress 

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“The Lady of Boston and Munich: From Brimmer Street to Brienner Strasse, The Songs of Margaret Ruthven Lang,”

That’s quite the concert title, isn’t it? 

The title belongs to quite a intriguing concert – featuring the songs of Margaret Ruthven Lang, performed by tenor Donald George and pianist (and WVU professor) Lucy Mauro, Tuesday night at West Virginia University.

Donald George will be a regular guest at WVU this year, performing and teaching throughout the year. He's an opera and recital singer with an extensive career, and he’s a Professor of Voice at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. 

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Previously:

WV Symphony Plays Snowshoe 

Snowshoe Symphony Festival: Sights and Sounds 

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Mona Seghatoleslami and Jan Kunicki 2009-09-17 false Center

Last month, we got to travel to Snowshoe to report on the WV Monarch Butterfly Festival and the WV Symphony Festival.  We've already shared some sights and sounds from the trip. Now, we have an extra treat for you -- some video selections of the West Virginia Symphony performing music by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.  Enjoy!

 

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Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 (Julie Albers, cello; WV Symphony; Grant Cooper, conductor) Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 (WV Symphony; Grant Cooper, conductor)
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Julian Bream: My Life in Music (DVD) recounts the story of a Londoner from Battersea who became widely recognized as the best classical guitarist and lute player in the world and certainly holds special appeal for me, as an aspiring guitarist/musician.

Julian Bream started playing guitar at an early age, sneaking practice time while his father was at work during the days. Eventually his father Henry discovered Julian’s desire to learn, and started teaching him. 

Bream’s influences came largely from his father’s record collection; Django Reinhardt, and of course the master Andres Segovia. It was in fact a record of Andres Segovia playing Francisco Tarrega’s “Recuerdos de la Alhambra,” and later, actually seeing Segovia in concert in London, as seminal moments that shaped his life. 

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The music alone on this DVD is captivating. Pieces by Francisco Tarrega, Fernando Sor, William Walton, Enrique Granados, and Django Reinhardt, as well as Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal Op. 70, which was composed specifically for Julian Bream, are featured throughout the movie.

For me, there is such an intimacy with plucked string instruments, like the guitar and lute, and to hear those instruments come to life in the hands of an artist of Bream’s quality is very special indeed. There are also great clips of lute music, and I must say that seeing Bream play lute with the accompaniment of George Malcolm on harpsichord has actually given me a new appreciation for the earlier life of classical music in the Baroque and Renaissance periods. 

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Throughout this movie, there is a wealth of cameos from famed musicians, including video documentation of Julian Bream’s meeting with Igor Stravinsky, as well as clips of many collaborations with the likes of John Williams and Peter Pears, as well as the above mentioned Malcolm. 

Whether you’re passionate about guitar or not, this DVD is indispensible as a source for any music lover’s library. The playing of Julian Bream is simply a delight. The recounting of Bream’s life is left largely to his own words, which is also quite enjoyable. He is clearly a man who has had many hardships and many truly grand adventures and his smiling face shows that exact fact.

Julian Bream: My Life in Music is available on DVD through Avie Records.

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Aran Jenkins is a recent graduate of WV State University.  He plays piano and guitar, writes for the Charleston Gazette, and is working on a novel.

Previous posts by Aran Jenkins:

The Master Segovia
Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff
Finding Connections
B is for Beautiful? 

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Aran Jenkins 2009-09-15 false Center “Passion and the desire to communicate is the key.” -- Julian Bream  

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I've also been thinking about trying a classical music movie club here. If you see a movie that relates to classical music -- let me know about it. If you write a bit about the movie, we can post comments here on Classically Speaking to share with others. 

A few movies that have come up recently in conversation include: Amadeus, Lisztomania, The Red Violin, Tous les Matins du Monde, Fellini’s Orchestra Rehearsal, and Rhapsody. Any interesting classical music-related movies you've seen recently?

Not enough, you say? Well, we’re also working on a fun, interactive classical trivia quiz, which still needs a bit of work.  And I’m sure there’s going to be more.

So stay tuned, I think this fall and winter are going to be a lot of fun. 

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Mona Seghatoleslami 2009-09-14 false Center

Today on the radio, I referred to a few of our older posts. You can always dig through our archives to find them, but I thought it would be nice to make them even easier to find. 

Idol and Glee: Not so original? 

* September and October Classical Calendar 

* Who is Suresh? (interview) 

There’s a bit of a look back, but what does the future hold? I’m planning on some more interviews with musicians performing in West Virginia and some autumn classical favorites; we'll also have a guest post from Aran Jenkins about guitarist Julian Bream and Jim Lange will be posting an interview with Hans Zimmer.

Plus, we have interviews with Wheeling Symphony conductor Andre Raphel Smith and Antonio Salvatore, another conductor in Wheeling. I’ve also been saving an interview with WVU Composer-in-Residence John Beall.

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My interview with Orli Shaham is printed in the Charleston Gazette. You can give it a read on their site.

In case you’d like to hear more from that interview, with stuff I didn't have room for in the paper, they’ve granted me permission to share the audio here.  Where does Mickey Mouse fit into it?  You’ll just have to listen to find out:)

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Previously:

Meet the Composer: Marc Mellits

Interview: Gil Shaham

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The WV Symphony season plays the first concert of their season tonight. They'll be performing Friday and Saturday in Charleston and Sunday in Parkersburg. They have two guests: pianist Orli Shaham and composer Marc Mellits, and I’ve had a chance to talk with both of them.

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http://www.wvpbmedia.com/radio/cs/2009/marcmellits.mp3 false Interview with composer Marc Mellits Center


We’re going to be giving away tickets to this concert on our Facebook page.  Have you become a fan of West Virginia Public Broadcasting on Facebook yet?

* Here’s more about the WV Symphony’s season-opening concerts this weekend in Charleston and Parkersburg.

* More about Marc Mellits from his Web site 

* You can also hear some music by Mellits in this video from New Music Detroit

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Composer Marc Mellits lives a busy and exciting life: writing music, playing piano, and traveling around the world with his music. 

He’s coming to West Virginia this weekend, in connection with his piece Three Machines being performed by the West Virginia Symphony.  He’ll also be visiting schools to talk to kids about music while he’s here.

Mellits will barely have a chance to recover from his jet lag, before boarding a plane for West Virginia. I caught him at home in Syracuse for about 15 minutes, between rehearsals and just back from performances in France and Romania.

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